In the midst of a divisive election year, North Carolina voters are united in their support of early learning. Significant majorities of Republicans, Independents and Democrats want more investments in early learning—including providing greater access to affordable child care, Smart Start, NC Pre-K and programs that build parenting skills. A new bipartisan poll from the First Five Years Fund and NC Early Childhood Foundation shows that North Carolina voters want the state to do more when it comes to early learning..

Quality early childhood education is a top priority issue along with improving education and controlling the cost of health care. 86% say making sure our children get a strong start in life through quality early childhood education is extremely or very important to them personally.

Top Priority_NC2

North Carolina voters sense a problem that only early childhood education can solve. 74% of voters say we should be doing more to ensure children begin kindergarten with the skills and knowledge they need. Only 18% say we are doing enough and virtually no one says we should be doing less (4%). 59% of Republicans, 76% of Independents and 85% of Democrats call for doing more.

Doing More

Voters recognize the benefits of high-quality early childhood education. 78% say these programs set children up for success in elementary, middle and high school. 77% of voters express that high-quality programs help children achieve their third grade reading goals. 75% of voters say early childhood programs create a larger pool of highly skilled workers in the long-term.

Voters throughout the state say there is a lack of affordable and quality early education programs. 66% of North Carolina voters say that half or fewer of the early childhood programs in their area are both affordable and high-quality.Lack of affordable ECE

Lack of affordable ECE chart

^ denotes rounding

There is overwhelming support—with little opposition—for a federal plan that helps states and local communities provide better access to quality early childhood education. Nearly three-quarters of voters in the state support this plan: 74% favor and only 24% oppose. 54% of Republicans, 75% of Independents and 88% of Democrats voice support. A majority of key swing voter groups also favor investing more in early childhood education.

Voters in North Carolina express strong support for integrating early childhood resources. 89% of voters say the state should give young children a clearer pathway to success through better integration of early health, parent education and early childhood education so that these services work together. 78% of Republicans, 90% of Independents and 96% of Democrats support this statement.

90% say the state should make early education and child care more affordable to working families to give children a strong start. Majorities in all parties support this statement.


A vast majority of North Carolina voters support expanding the state’s early childhood education programs. 84% of state voters support expanding access to Smart Start and NC Pre-K programs so that more children in the state can participate in them. This registers overwhelming support among the electorate with relatively little opposition—only 14% oppose it.

Voters across the political spectrum support increased funding in Smart Start and NC Pre-K. 70% of Republicans, 87% of Independents and 92% of Democrats show support for this statement. Support has increased substantially among Republican (+20%) and Independent (+14%) voters since 2014.

Methodology: Public Opinion Strategies (R) and Hart Research (D) conducted a telephone survey of N=500 voters in North Carolina on both landline and cell phones. The survey was conducted July 26-30, 2016 and has an overall margin of error of +/- 4.38%. The sample was distributed proportionally throughout the state and is demographically representative of the electorate.

Quality early childhood education is essential for children and families.


Find the complete findings from our 2016 national poll here.

See the results from our 2016 Florida poll here.

Find the results for our Colorado polling here.

See the full findings from our 2016 Ohio poll here